Have you ever wondered what happens to airplanes that have reached their prime and are ready to be scrapped? Where do they go? What are the airplane graveyards and where are those located in the US? If you’re looking for answers to these questions, read on.
Since the pandemic airlines started to retire part of their aircraft fleet. This is a good opportunity for those interested in investing in abandoned planes and parts. Whether it’s for business or personal use – there’s a great use to them.
Older civil airplanes and even forgotten war birds are available for rebirth. You just have to make sure you understand the process of how they are scrapped and recycled. Some use retired plane elements in decor, others refurbish and reuse in operable jets.
Aircraft graveyard is the perfect place to find the treasure: fuselage and parts for sale. First, read on to find out about the largest aircraft graveyards. In this article, we’ll give you an idea about the costs as well. That way, you’ll be able to prepare and know where to get an abandoned Boeing 747 of a World War II bird for sale.
Where Are The Planes Scrapped?
If you’re wondering about junk airplanes for sale, here are frequently asked questions:
First thing’s first: When should airplanes be scrapped?
There’s no set industry rule or standard in terms of the exact times aircraft would reach the end of their lifespans. With that said, commercial airliners would usually reach the end of their lifespan in about 25 years or so.
Besides the aircraft’s age, there are more factors to consider here, such as its pressurization cycles, its fuel price, and efficiency, updated aviation guidelines technical obsolescence, depreciation, operational costs, and more. Short-haul airliners would usually have shorter lifespans, while long-haul ones would last longer.
When an airliner or aircraft costs more than it makes, or if it doesn’t pass industry standards anymore, then that’s when it’s time to retire it for selling.
Airlines may use maintenance programs, which are designed by manufacturers, to identify whether the aircraft components are over-fatigued by pressurization. They will then be given the choice of whether to replace the parts with new or secondhand components or to decommission the aircraft entirely. To avoid huge storage costs (it can cost $60,000 to store Boeing 747s monthly), airlines would sell their intact model planes to overseas carriers.
Now, where do they go?
Junk, used, old airplanes would be scrapped in areas called an aircraft boneyard or graveyard, which is a storage facility for retired aircraft. Such aircraft are kept for storage with maintenance or will have their parts removed for resale or reuse, with the rest of the parts scrapped. The scraps would be broken down into scrap metal, which is then smelted into ingots, recycled, and made to become soft drink cans, skateboards, and the like.
You can find many of these airplane boneyards around the world, such as in the deserts of the USA and other countries like the UK, France, Spain, Australia, and more. These areas would provide different services, such as:
- The temporary storage of aircraft, since some airplanes would return to service or keep as surplus
- Aircraft maintenance and overhaul
- Aircraft parts reclamation and/or part-out
- Scrapping and recycling of aircraft
You can visit aircraft boneyards to view the museums and airfields, or to see what you can purchase. It’s best to plan though, as there are boneyards that don’t permit tourists or visitors, especially when they have areas with controlled access. There are other times where visitors can go in via organized bus tours or during invite events and visits.
Retired or temporarily stored aircraft are placed in boneyards for better storage. Airlines often choose not to keep them at their premises. It takes up space that can be used for working airplanes. At an airplane graveyard liners will be stored in areas protected from weather conditions, that can potentially damage them. That way, sealed aircraft can be stored safely and last for years to come until they are ready for active duty or to be salvaged.
How much do junk planes cost, though?
This depends on the aircraft’s model and quality after it has been stripped bare of its usable parts. The fuselage of a Boeing 747 can cost up to $55,000 for just its scrap alone! Its shell can cost about $100,000 or more, which doesn’t include logistic costs.
Airplane Graveyard: The Ultimate List
The graveyard is a storage area for retired aircrafts. You can find these across the United States. The biggest one is the airplane graveyard in Tuscon, Arizona!
However, these boneyards and storage facilities are usually limited access sites, not allowing visitors. This depends on where you’re going, though. You may be able to find an airplane graveyard, such as in Tucson, AZ, that allows visitors to certain facilities. Others may permit visitors only via bus tours or special events.
Read on as I’ll be showing you an airplane graveyard list! Whether you want to visit a WWII warplane graveyard or betting on finding some cool stuff for decor, you’ll get your answers here.
Airplane Boneyard List in USA
There is not one airplane boneyard in the USA, but a smorgasbord of them across the states. The biggest one is the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, which is located in Tucson, Arizona. This graveyard houses thousands of aircrafts, and today it’s home to almost 3,300 pieces of 80 varieties, from small helicopters to large military cargo planes.
As mentioned, tourists and regular visitors may not be able to visit an aircraft boneyard in USA, though you may contact the specific boneyard’s facilities to see if they do permit visitors, may it be through bus tours, events, or by other means.
This is the list of large aircraft boneyards and storage facilities within the Western US:
|Davis-Monthan AFB in TUCSON, AZ||https://www.dm.af.mil/||S Wilmot Rd, Tucson, AZ 85708, United States||719-567-1110|
|Phoenix Goodyear Airport in PHOENIX, AZ||https://goodyearairport.com/||1658 S Litchfield Rd, Goodyear, AZ 85338, United States||623-932-4550|
|Pinal County Airpark in MARANA, AZ||https://pinalcountyairpark.com/||24641 E Pinal Airpark Rd, Marana, AZ 85653, United States||520-682-4181|
|Kingman Airport in KINGMAN, AZ||https://www.kingmanairport.com/||7000 Flightline Dr, Kingman, AZ 86401, United States||928-757-2134|
|Southern California Logistics Airport – SCLA in VICTORVILLE, CA||https://www.victorvilleca.gov/government/city-departments/airport||18374 Phantom W, Victorville, CA 92394, United States||760-955-5000|
|Mojave Air and Space Port in MOJAVE, CA||https://www.mojaveairport.com/||1434 Flightline, Building 58, Mojave, CA 93501||661-824-2433|
|Roswell International Air Center in ROSWELL, NM||https://www.roswell-nm.gov/307/Roswell-Air-Center||1 Jerry Smith Cir, Roswell, NM 88203, United States||575-624-6700|
Here are the rest of the aircraft storage facilities and parts reclamation sites you can find in the USA:
|Fairbanks International Airport in FAIRBANKS, AK||http://www.dot.state.ak.us/faiiap/index.shtml||6450 Airport Way, Fairbanks, AK 99709, United States||907-474-2500|
|Arkansas International Airport in Blytheville, AR||–||4701 Memorial Dr #201, Blytheville, AR 72315, United States||870-532-5606|
|Stuttgart Municipal Airport in Stuttgart, AR||–||U.S. Highway 63, Stuttgart, AR 72160, United States||870-673-2960|
|Buckeye Municipal Airport in BUCKEYE, AZ||https://www.buckeyeaz.gov/residents/buckeye-municipal-airport||3000 S Palo Verde Rd, Buckeye, AZ 85326, United States||623-349-6880|
|Falcon Field in MESA, AZ||https://www.falconfieldairport.com/||4800 E Falcon Dr, Mesa, AZ 85215, United States||480-644-2450|
|Tucson International Airport in TUCSON, AZ||https://www.flytucson.com/||7250 S Tucson Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85756, United States||520-573-8100|
|William J. Fox Airport in LANCASTER, CA||https://dpw.lacounty.gov/avi/airports/GeneralWMJFox.aspx||4725 William J Barnes Ave, Lancaster, CA 93536, United States||661-940-1709|
|San Bernardino Int’l Airport in SAN BERNARDINO, CA||https://www.sbdairport.com/||1601 E 3rd St #100, San Bernardino, CA 92408, United States||909-382-4100|
|Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in OPA LOCKA, FL||http://www.miami-airport.com/opalocka.asp||14201 NW 42nd Ave, Opa-locka, FL 33054, United States||305-869-1660|
|Bob Sikes Airport in CRESTVIEW, FL||http://www.flycew.com/||5535 John Givens Rd, Crestview, FL 32539, United States||850-651-7160|
|Orlando Sanford International Airport in SANFORD, FL||https://flysfb.com/||1200 Red Cleveland Blvd, Sanford, FL 32773, United States||407-585-4000|
|Dodson International in RANTOUL, KS||http://www.dodson.com/||2155 Vermont Rd, Rantoul, KS 66079, United States||785-878-8000|
|Aberdeen Proving Ground in ABERDEEN, MD||https://home.army.mil/apg/index.php||–||–|
|Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport in OSCODA, MI||https://www.oscairport.com/||3961 E. Airport Drive, Oscoda, MI 48750||989-739-1111|
|Greenwood-Leflore Airport in GREENWOOD, MS||https://www.greenwoodms.com/living-here/airport||502 Airport Rd, Greenwood, MS 38930, United States||662-453-1526|
|Tupelo Regional Airport in TUPELO, MS||https://flytupelo.com/||2763 W Jackson Street Extended, Tupelo, MS 38801, United States||662-841-6570|
|Harry S Truman Regional Airport in BAES CITY, MO||–||Clay Township, MO 64011, United States||816-690-8800|
|Laurinburg-Maxton Airport in LAURINBURG, NC||https://www.lmairport.com/||16701 Airport Rd, Maxton, NC 28364, United States||910-844-5081|
|Wilmington Airpark in WILMINGTON, OH||https://www.wilmingtonairpark.com/||1113 Airport Rd, Wilmington, OH 45177, United States||937-655-7040|
|Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport in SMYRNA, TN||https://www.smyrnaairport.com/||278 Doug Warpoole Rd, Smyrna, TN 37167, United States||615-459-2651|
|Hondo Aerospace LLC in HONDO, TX||https://hondo-aerospace.business.site/||900 Vandenberg Rd, Hondo, TX 78861, United States||830-584-7017|
Aircraft Boneyard in California
There is a variety of aircraft boneyards in the state of California. However, these airplane boneyards and storage facilities are limited access sites, usually not allowing visitors (such as in the Victorville or Mojave airplane boneyards).
With that in mind, you may still visit related facilities and museums. The best way to find out is to give California airplane boneyard a call. When in search of an aircraft boneyard in California, refer to this list:
|Southern California Logistics Airport – SCLA (VCV) in VICTORVILLE, California||18374 Phantom W, Victorville, CA 92394, United States||760-243-1900|
|Mojave Air & Space Port in MOJAVE, California||https://www.mojaveairport.com/||1434 Flight Line, Mojave, CA 93501, United States||661-824-2433|
|Cal-Aero Field and Ontario Depot in CHINO, California||–||–||–|
|William J. Fox Airport in LANCASTER, California||https://dpw.lacounty.gov/avi/airports/GeneralWMJFox.aspx||4725 William J Barnes Ave, Lancaster, CA 93536, United States||661-940-1709|
|China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in RIDGECREST, California||https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrsw/installations/naws_china_lake.html||1 Administrative Circle, Ridgecrest, CA 93555, United States||760-939-9011|
Aircraft Boneyard in Texas
For those looking for airplane graveyards in Texas, here is a list:
|Hondo Aerospace LLC in HONDO, TX||https://hondo-aerospace.business.site/||900 Vandenberg Rd, Hondo, TX 78861, United States||830-584-7017|
|Victory Field in VERNON, TX||–||Unnamed Road, Vernon, TX 76384, United States||940-552-9347|
|Pyote Army Air Field in PYOTE, TX||–||Pyote, TX 79777, United States||–|
|El Paso County in EL PASO, TX||https://www.epcounty.com/||500 E. San Antonio, El Paso, TX 79901||915-546-2000|
Aircraft Boneyard in Nevada
There are no airplane graveyards in Nevada. However, the closest ones will be in Mojave Desert particularly in Arizona and California, its nearby states.
Aircraft Boneyard in New Mexico
Looking for an aircraft boneyard in New Mexico? There is one available, which is the Roswell International Air Center (ROW) in Roswell, New Mexico. It offers commercial airliner storage, maintenance, and disassembly.
Aircraft Boneyard: Parts for Sale
Not only can you visit airplane boneyards, but you can also find historic aircraft parts for sale!
An aircraft would be scrapped in airplane graveyards, as they provide both storage facilities and dismantling parts for reuse or resale. While some parts come cheap, others don’t!
For instance, a decommissioned Boeing 747 can cost $410,000 at its cheapest, while it can reach 7 to 8 figures at most. Its main body and scrap parts alone can reach $55,000 to the hundreds of thousands.
As for fighter jets, it is possible to obtain decommissioned military aircraft as well. Though these will be stripped of weaponry parts. It will go through a process called demilitarization, and you must follow rules when flying these jets.
Used Planes and Helicopters for Sale: The Process
How do we get to purchase a used aircraft for sale? It all starts by undergoing a thorough aircraft recycling process. This involves cutting out airplane parts and materials; an eco-friendly way to cut an airline’s costs. A passenger plane might even be remodeled to a cargo.
Recyclers will remove various components and materials like glass, carbon fiber, aluminum, wires, textiles, landing gears, engines, titanium, electronics, steel, foam, and even more.
The process begins through non-destructive dismantling activity. All hazardous and radioactive materials will be taken out, including the oils, fuels, hydraulic fluids, batteries, and more, which follows strict environmental regulations.
Afterward, all other valuable parts are removed, like the engines, landing gear, flight controls, among other parts that can either be refurbished or sold for active aircraft use. Then, precious metals will be removed, including aluminum, copper, steel, and titanium, which will then be put up for sale.
Once all reusable aircraft parts are reclaimed, the remaining fuselage and wings are crushed to recycle further. These scrap parts will go through a certain sorting process, with a powerful magnet to separate materials and a manual check for final sorting.
Around 85-89% of the airliners would be successfully recycled and sold, eliminating wastage that detriments the environment. It’s important to think of the environmental effects disposing of airliners has, as 40-600 commercial aircraft are disassembled yearly worldwide. This is equal to mountains of waste, which is around d 30,000 tons of aluminum, almost 2,000 tons of alloy, 1,000 tons of carbon fiber, and 600 tons of other parts removed and wasted, if not properly recycled!
Who Buys Old Airplanes?
Retired airships and jets can be used for either business or personal purposes.
The main body may be sold to other airlines or broken down to sell its spare parts, as they can be worth more. Such parts that have accurate and detailed service records would be worth more compared to those with lost or mismanaged ones.
If dismantled, recycled, and removed from their service completely, then they would be sold to businesses or civilians.
Such spare parts and metal bodies can be made into new homes or furnishings. Businesses can also use the parts for their décor if they would like to have an airplane-themed office, restaurant, or attraction.
Sometimes, old planes stay in the aircraft boneyard, but not left to rot and die. Besides being used for recycling or future sale, some planes would be used as cargo units or will conduct cargo service. If the plane is considered a historical model, it would be retired and preserved for exhibitions in museums or airfields.
Retired Military Aircrafts
Airplane boneyards also house military aircraft that have been grounded permanently. This may be of interest for personal use, may it be converted to cool homes, down to displaying its parts.
But wait! Can civilians purchase military aircrafts?
Fortunately, it IS possible to invest in old military aircraft. In fact, they are usually listed in pages of aircraft sales periodicals!
Once the airplane is deemed demilitarized, the general public can purchase them. If you aren’t familiar with the term, demilitarizing involves removing all parts that may be used for military functions. Meaning, the aircraft will be stripped of all guns, weapons, radar equipment, and all other secret technology and devices that are deemed dangerous in the hands of civilians and/or enemy states.
This makes the aircraft impossible to fly at times!
What about ‘new’ and working fighter jets?
Civilians can own fighter jets as well, but it comes with a few rules, such as:
- You cannot fly over 600 miles from home without permission from the FAA
- All pilots should have had at least 1,000 hours of flight time
- Owned planes need to have regular maintenance and undergo Federal inspections
- NO guns onboard
So it may be hard to get your hands on a working military aircraft, though getting a fuselage is feasible.
How much would a military aircraft cost, though? Demilitarized fighter jets that can fly will mostly range between $50,000 to $500,000. However, it may reach up to $8.5 million, depending on the model you’re investing in, such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
These costs don’t include logistics and shipment, duty, licenses, regular maintenance, fuel, and other costs.
Old Small Airplanes For Sale
Here is what the typical aircraft would cost.
How much does a small bush plane cost?
A small bush plane, also known as a single-engine plane, would hold two or more people, being economical to operate and maintain compared to multi-engine planes. These are the small planes we see! These planes would cost as low as $15,000 to as high as $100,000.
What is the best small airplane to buy?
Now that you know how much small airplanes cost, which one should you consider getting? Here are the best single-engine planes civilians can invest in for their personal use:
- Diamond DA40 NG – The NG is Next Generation, which is a great choice for a first airplane thanks to its first-class safety rating.
- Cessna 172 – It is one of the most attractive airplanes and affordable ones at that!
- Beechcraft G36 Bonanza – This aircraft holds the record as the longest continuously produced aircraft, being there since 1947. With newer upgrades, it has efficient engines and sophisticated avionics.
- Pilatus PC-12 – This is known for its rugged design, as it can land safely on ill-maintained and/or short runways. It also has a larger cabin size and range compared to other small airplanes.
- Piper M350 – This has a twin-turbocharged piston engine, which is a great choice for those looking for private planes. It has a pressurized cabin that allows you to cruise at an altitude of up to 25,000 feet while keeping its cost low thanks to the dual turbochargers.
The Airplane Parts Prices
Secondhand aircraft parts are in-demand as they usually still have life in them but are fairly cheaper compared to ordering new parts. Here are the rough estimates of market prices for aircraft components:
- Engines can cost up to $2 million, and while this may seem pricey, this is half the price of its brand-new counterparts.
- Landing gear can cost up to $300,000
- Cockpit screens are around $30,000 each
- Auxiliary power units are $25,000Inflight-service carts are around $200
- Seatbelts are around $25 each
If you’re wondering how to buy big or small airplane parts, you can actually contact airline boneyards or graveyards. And when doing a quick search online, you can find a variety of sites that sell plane fuselage and decommissioned aircraft. However, you must make sure that you take into account the company’s reputation, costs outside the aircraft price, along with the logistic issues.
Wrapping It Up
Aircrafts don’t last forever, and all airplanes will need to be permanently grounded at some point. Fortunately, their parts and materials will be put to good use, either being recycled as scrap metal or for people to use creatively.
Hopefully, you learned a lot about what happens with grounded aircraft, from how much they are down to what to invest in. If you’re interested in finding airplane graveyards in US, just to visit or obtain some parts, use this information to know what you should get based on your budget and needs.
If you have questions or want to share your knowledge on airplane graveyards, shoot us an email. We appreciate you reading this through.